Since the dismantling of Capab (Cape Performing Arts Council) in the mid-1990s, Artscape has been producing the Shakespeare season with the other components being produced by various entities.
For the 2018 summer season, there are big changes. Maynardville will become a fully-fledged classically orientated festival, with the signature Maynardville events - ballet and Shakespeare as well as new additions of classical music and stand-up comedy.
The big news is that Artscape has stepped aside and will not be the primary producer.
Artscape will continue to be involved, providing technical support, costumes etc, but the person tasked with driving the festival is Brian Heydenrych, producer of LiquidMatch Productions, one of the venue partners.
He said: “It is not my company alone as producer. There are three venue partners: Artscape Theatre Centre, The Maynardville Open-Air Theatre Trust and myself. All of us have a desire and commitment to ensuring the continuance of Maynardville and in particularly the Shakespeare.
The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Tara Notcutt, will be produced by Siv Ngesi and Notcutt’s company, The Pink Couch.
The comedy season, Jesters in the Park, is being produced by The Cape Town Comedy Club and the classical music Symphonic Shakespeare, by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. La Sylphide is being staged by Cape Town City Ballet.
La Sylphide was the first ballet staged at Maynardville, in 1950. Six years later, the first Shakespeare was staged at Maynardville: The Taming of The Shrew (opened 1956). Fast forward to 2017 and in the new-look festival, we have Notcutt directing the play - with an all-female cast. Notcutt, 30, is the youngest director at Maynardville.
Heydenrych said: “With regard to directors doing the productions, for the majority of the years since the late ’90s there has always been an open call for directors to submit.
The perception was that this was a ‘closed shop’, but the only criteria for submission was experience in large scale work as Maynardville is an incredibly difficult space to work in
“That said, Artscape has listened to these pressures and opened it up while still committing support.
In addition, Artscape has its own growing internal pressure to focus internally to the building according to its mandate. Both of these come together this year with the change to a new model.”
How does comedy fit in with the classical theme?
“Comedy has its history deeply set in Greek roots, but this is also part of our dialogue going forward. Classical has many interpretations. It’s not just about setting up a vibrant programme but creating a buzz and choice.
“I am trying to build the offering for the patrons, and upscale it in terms of quality and service.
“We will not take away the patrons’ ability to bring their own picnic. This is often a highlight for them, but we want the audience to also be able to arrive into a space that we have on offer for all.”
The Maynardville Open-Air Festival starts on January 18, with Symphonic Shakespeare by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Then there is ballet from Cape Town City Ballet (The Firebird and Les Sylphides), the comedy season (Jesters in the Park) and the Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew) to complete the season from mid-February. Bookings at Computicket.